ORCUTT, Calif. - Orcutt podcaster Chris Lambert is continuing to collect material about the Kristin Smart case and said he hopes his work may lead to bringing Smart home.
Smart was a freshman at Cal Poly when she disappeared almost 24 years ago.
Chris Lambert launched the podcast Your Own Backyard in September 2019. He's now released seven episodes of his podcast.
Growing up in Orcutt, he has always been interested in what happened to Kristin Smart. Over the past 21 months, Lambert has done a deep dive into the case.
In May 2018, after releasing a music album, he started to research the case in the digital archives of newspapers.
He collected a binder of articles about the case, all in chronological order.
"I started to see when laid out chronologically, is that each year the number of articles got thinner and thinner and thinner," Lambert said. "By the time we were in 2018, it felt like nothing had been talked about publicly for a couple of years."
Lambert said he wondered why no one had made a documentary on the case. After six months of researching, he decided to take the plunge into documenting it himself.
Now, it's a full time job for him. He spends eight hours a day compiling research, making phone calls, and interviewing those involved.
He says it's become personal for him and he has a close relationship with the Smart family.
"I'm not just telling the story anymore at this point, I'm actively trying to push this forward," he said. "Hopefully with enough persistence, Kristin will be home soon."
He said law enforcement has credited him with renewing interest in the case. They have received several tips since the podcast debuted.
As for what's next, Lambert said he doesn't know.
"I am still gathering material all the time, I am still interviewing people all the time. There's been people who I've been meaning to talk to for a year who have just finally agreed to speak with me," he said.
He doesn't know if or when he will release another episode. "I'm going to keep working, and if there's enough new material that's good, I'll put out a new episode," he said. "And I'll continue to do that until she's home."
Lambert said several people from across the country have sent him other cases that they would like to see him research.
He said part of the reason he took on researching the case was because it happened in his own backyard, so to say. Because it happened close to where he grew up, it has special meaning to him.
He said he looks forward to when he can focus on his music again.
The case has had several updates from law enforcement.
The San Luis Obispo County sheriff's office said they have 140 new items of evidence.
That's before deputies served four search warrants last week up and down the west coast at the home of Paul Flores and some of his family members.
Cal poly also changed Smart's grades to say withdrawn instead of failed on Friday after Lambert brought light to the issue.
The Orcutt native said his podcast has now been downloaded 2.2 million times around the world.